Free your mind this Fourth at Wanderlust | AspenTimes.com

Free your mind this Fourth at Wanderlust

Jill Beathard
Snowmass Sun

In Snowmass Village, you can celebrate the Fourth of July by freeing your mind, body and spirit at the Wanderlust yoga festival.

The international festival is about much more than just the practice of yoga, though, says co-founder Sean Hoess.

"The core mission of Wanderlust is to create community around mindful living," Hoess said. "We've always seen the event as a giant container for people, practice and ideas — yoga, mindfulness, the arts, personal spirituality, environmentalism and organics."

Hoess started the festival in 2009 in Squaw Valley, California, with his friends Jeff Krasno and Schuyler Grant. Since then, it has grown to include 17 annual events in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Chile.

This year, one of those events debuts in Snowmass Village. The festival, featuring yoga classes — on mats and on stand-up paddleboards, slacklines, hula hoops and trails — music, lectures, wine tastings and pool parties, is expected to draw about 2,000 attendees each day.

Here's a sampling of teachers, classes and offerings at Wanderlust Aspen-Snowmass. See a full schedule at http://aspen snowmass.wanderlust festival.com.

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Evan Soroka is an Aspen native teaching two classes at Wanderlust Aspen-Snowmass. The studio director at O2 Aspen has a style that's more traditional, with a focus on meditation and spirituality.

"Yoga … doesn't just incorporate the poses," Soroka said. "It's a whole practice of breathing, chanting, meditation and mind/body work."

Soroka says people are starting to catch on that yoga is a lifestyle and not just a form of exercise. In the Aspen/Snowmass community, where people are constantly challenging their bodies, having some downtime to look inward can be especially important, she said.

As a young person, Soroka considers it her mission, or dharma, to share that teaching with her generation, which is why she wanted to join Wanderlust. Soroka has assisted in two festivals and now is getting her chance to teach.

Her first class, on July 3, is called "The Secret Art of Letting Go." It will incorporate breathing, chanting and asanas (poses) to "get to a state of relaxation," she said.

The other class she will teach is on July 4 and is a tantric vinyasa practice.

"Contrary to popular belief, (tantra) has nothing to do with sex," Soroka said. "It has to do with getting to know oneself and the heart/mind connection."

In the vinyasa flow class, participants will do series of poses repetitively and connect them to thoughts, visualization and breathing exercises.

Soroka is excited that Wanderlust is coming to her hometown.

"This is just the way the energy of things in Aspen have been going since I moved back," Soroka said.

The yoga community is growing, and residents are becoming more mindful and incorporating yoga into their active lifestyles, she said.

Yoga is for guys, too

Matt Giordano's personal experience lends itself to the classes he will be teaching at Wanderlust.

Giordano, who is based in New York City, used to have a lot of knee pain, but he found some relief after learning how to properly do certain yoga poses, such as pigeon, that helped the tightness in his hips.

"A large reason for knee pain is tightness in the hips and IT bands," Giordano said.

Hip openers are generally more difficult for men, and that joint is the focus of Giordano's two "Yoga for Dudes" classes at Wanderlust Aspen-Snowmass.

One, jokingly called "Hips Are Not Just for Chicks," will focus on those hip-opening poses. The other, "Let's Fly Dudes," will use hip openers to build up to arm balances.

"What's fun is that for guys … we're more top heavy," Giordano said. "Arm balances come a little bit faster. It's a good way for men to feel empowered right away."

That is not always a feeling men have when they first walk into a yoga class, Giordano said. Leading a class just for men also helps Giordano tailor the poses he chooses for the people in the room.

"A challenge of modern-day yoga, I think, is we have these big groups," Giordano said. "To deliver a class that is helpful for everybody is challenging."

In addition to the men's classes, Giordano is co-leading a therapeutic practice and an AcroYoga class. Also an acrobatic performer, Giordano will be part of the Wanderlust Spectacular opening the festival on July 3.

Compared to Cirque du Soleil, the spectacular showcases the talents of some of the Wanderlust teachers as they perform different types of choreography. For instance, Giordano will be performing AcroYoga with a partner, lying on his back and moving her through the air with his hands and feet. Other teachers will perform on a slackline and with hula hoops. The show also has a DJ and violin solos.

jbeathard@snowmasssun.com

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